The Alchemy of Sex & Intimacy in Long-Term Relationships

With Niyati Evers & Robert King

PART 1: THE LANGUAGE OF EROS & CONNECTION

In Part 1 we focus on getting to know your erotic landscape and developing a more conscious relationship with your sexuality. The more grounded we are in our self-awareness around our own sexuality, the more we can shape our erotic experiences. Part 1 also looks at some of the typical challenges and dynamics that come up around sexuality in long-term relationships and how to develop intimacy by connecting in an authentic way. Lastly, we look at erotic practices and how to communicate in ways that are welcoming and encouraging of explorations in the realm of sexuality and intimacy.

Week 1: Your Erotic Landscape

Themes

Becoming grounded in your own eroticism by developing a conscious relationship with your sexuality

Getting to know your ‘Erotic Forcefield’

Deepening your ability to access and ‘own’ your Erotic Potential and shape your sexual experiences

WEEK 1: EXERCISE

ENLISTING AN EROTIC ALLY

  1. List some of your Erotic Allies 
  2. Pick one that ‘flirts’ with you today and zoom in on it. What exactly attracts you about this ally? Now become them: 
    • If this way of being were a dance, what kind of movement or dance would it be? 
    • What song or sound goes along with this movement? 
    • What is the state of mind (e.g. beliefs) of the ally?
    • How does it feel to be this ally? 
    • How would you relate from this place? 
    • How is this different from your usual or more familiar ways of expressing your eroticism/sexuality?


(If you picked a poem, a painting or a piece of music – let yourself be transported into the state the music/painting/poem inspires in you and do steps a-f from that state)

  1. What might be against this way of expressing/being/relating in a sexual and intimate context? What’s the edge
  2. Imagine bringing (a little or a lot) of this energy into your eroticism, your sexuality, your way of relating with your partner, what new worlds of experience could that open up for you and/or your partner(s)? 
  3. Write down any insights or ideas that come up.
  4. Optional reflection question: which channels were enlivened by embodying the Ally? Which were more edgy?

Switch

WEEK 1: NOTES

CHANNELS: EXAMPLES IN CONTEXT OF SEXUALITY & INTIMACY

Visual – looking and looking away, being seen, making eye contact during sex, showing yourself, dancing or stripping or performing for the other person or turning the lights off, finding ways to not see or be seen

Auditory – making sounds, including ‘more animalistic sounds like growling or howling, feeling free/not so free to let whatever sounds move through you, being loud or soft, the tone of your voice, asking for what you want, setting boundaries, bringing your voice in (or not)

Movement – touching and receiving touch including how present (or not) you can be in your touching and in receiving touch, grabbing, taking, reaching for, rolling around, dancing, allowing your body to move as it wants to move (or not), initiating (or not), pace (slow/fast) and rhythms

Proprioception – feelings and sensations, moods, feeling aroused (or not), resting inside yourself (e.g. meditative/essence space)

Relationship – communication (both intended and unintended), all the signals/double signals that communicate a dynamic between two people, how you make contact, (hidden) conflicts, bringing something into relationship

World – synchronicities, unexpected events that happen in context of sexual experiences

POINTERS

  • We can have layers of edges within one channel and also in combining channels
  • We tend to stay within familiar/comfortable channels – changing channels can be a powerful way to unlock erotic energy (sexually & intimately)
  • Using (less familiar) channels to explore can lead to new and surprising insights and shifts in awareness & closeness

STUFF TO PLAY WITH

Which channels are more familiar/comfortable for you in the context of sex and intimacy and which are less familiar/comfortable? 

Which channel(s) are you curious to explore more? 

If it feels right: do small experiments with new channels or with combining channels

Week 2: Intimacy – Getting Naked from the Inside Out

Themes

Understanding the Interconnectedness between your relationship patterns and your sexuality

Developing your ability to recognize and work with stuck moments around sexuality and intimacy

Deepening your potential for intimacy and connection

WEEK 2: EXERCISES 

UNFOLDING A DISTURBING EXPERIENCE AROUND SEXUALITY 

  1. Recall making love – a past or present lover. See yourself, your partner, what you are doing, what position, activity, where, what time of day.
  2. What is a disturbing, mysterious or inexplicable thing that happens that doesn’t go along with what you’re doing or what your intention was – for the purpose of this exercise, focus on a bodily experience.
  3. Take a moment to notice what it’s like to have this symptom (your reactions to having the symptom, how you normally try to deal with the symptom, etc.) Name and put aside for now.
  4. Take a couple of deep breaths and relax. If you were to shapeshift into the symptom and become it, how would you move, what posture does it have, what would you feel, what kinds of sounds would you make? Unfold the symptom and fill it out using the various channels, amplify it, do it faster, slower, with your entire body, etc. As you unfold it, notice what kind of figure emerges and what name you might give that particular energy. (You can invent/rename a figure, let yourself be surprised.)
  5. Let yourself connect to the essence of that figure. Imagine that figure has eyes and can look back at the scene of your sexual disturbance. What tip or advice does the figure have for dealing with the disturber, for how you are connecting with your partner, for your sexuality and intimacy, etc.
  6. Optional: What might be against being that way? (i.e. the edge)?
  7. Imagine you could bring that experience back into your relationship and lovemaking. How would things change? 

INNER WORK EROTIC & INTIMACY EDGES IN THE VARIOUS CHANNELS

Aim: Getting to know & explore your edges in relationship, intimacy and sexuality. 

With each question, focus on the context of your sexuality and intimacy.

  • Visual – when relating, what won’t or can’t you look at outwardly, in yourself or your partner? What inner pictures or fantasies are you disturbed by and try to shut out? Experiment for a minute with these edges and see if there are any you would like to go over in your imagination? If so, have a good look and notice what arises in you as you do so? If not, notice what’s against it. 

 

  • Auditory – what sorts of sounds are you uncomfortable making and what types of sounds make you uncomfortable to listen or hear? If you want, experiment making one of those sounds (inwardly or outwardly). If you were free, what kinds of sounds do you hear yourself making? Or, what’s against making those sounds? 

 

  • Proprioceptive – which feelings are you able to recognize emotionally in relationship and where in your body are the physical sensations that accompany those feelings? Which feelings are you not able to have or express in relationship? What body sensations are hard for you to acknowledge in relationship? 

 

  • Kinesthetic – what movements are you unable to make or allow while you are being intimate or sexual? Experiment in your imagination with a movement that is harder for you to make while making love and notice what that’s like. 

 

  • Relationship – what can’t, or don’t you do or express in your intimate relationships? What kinds of relationships could you never have? 

 

  • World – regarding your intimate relationships, what can’t, or won’t you do in the public space?  

WEEK 2: NOTES 

RECOGNIZING EDGES

 

VERBAL EDGES

  • Talking about the past or future
  • Talking about third parties, another person, group, etc. 
  • Content edges: use of generalities, edge to be specific, holes in information

 

PROPRIOCEPTIVE EDGES

  • Person begins to feel something and stops
  • Talking and being related and then head goes down, pauses and then comes right back up
  • Postural changes
  • “I am not feeling anything”

 

AUDITORY EDGES

  • Person can’t stand to hear something or to express
  • Non-stop talking and/or frantic speech, no one is listening, edge to say the important thing
  • Pauses

 

MOVEMENT EDGES

  • Incomplete movements
  • Movements that start and stop
  • Accidental movements
  • Not moving

 

VISUAL EDGES

  • Can’t stand to see something
  • Visual flirts that are quickly noticed but dropped
  • Images that perseverate

 

RELATIONSHIP EDGES

  • Changing the subject
  • Body symptoms that emerge in interaction
  • Double signals, smiling at someone and then turning away
  • Trances, staring with no eye movement, acting related with an edge to feeling

Week 3: The Space Between Us –

Creating an Erotic Container

Themes

Creating a welcoming environment for the Erotic

Developing the Art of Erotic Communication – Skills & Meta-Skills

Deepening your experiences around sexuality and intimacy by creating Erotic Practices and Rituals 

WEEK 3: EXERCISES 

DEEPENING OUR POTENTIAL FOR INTIMACY & SEXUALITY
BY EXPLORING SIGNALS & EDGES

In this activity we will focus on:

  • How to get in touch with and unfold an edge in context of sex & intimacy
  • How our sexuality is a mirror and what that means in practice
  1. Focus on a scenario around sex and intimacy where there was some sort of break in the flow of connection between you and your partner. 
  2. Instead of thinking ABOUT the scene and what the reasons are and what caused it, zoom in on the actual experience itself in your body – the signals and channels and embody it for a moment. In PW we believe there’s meaning and value in our signals and double signals – if you can, keep an open mind and let yourself explore and discover as we go through the next steps.
  3. Focus in on what’s unintended in the communication. Amplify and unfold: do it even more, exaggerate it, bring it into your whole body until it becomes a figure or message– what might be right or meaningful about it? 
  4. Ask yourself – where or how might that energy be useful? How is it needed – internally and/or within the relationship and in your life? 
  5. In exploring your double signal, what do you imagine is your underlying edge? I.e. what’s the thing that is hard to express directly and therefore comes out instead in your double signal? Or, another way to look at it is: If you had no edges, what would you be free to say or express in that moment, in the scenario you picked? 
  6. Think of an experiment of how to practice with your edge through or in context of sexuality/intimacy and your relationship(s)

WEEK 3: NOTES 

NOTICING PROCESS: TRACKING SIGNALS & DOUBLE SIGNALS

The word “Process” refers to the flow of information within a person and between people through both overt (visible, congruent) and covert (hidden, incongruent, subtle) signals.

One of the key skills in Process Work is the ability to be aware of signals in yourself and in the other. Signals aren’t right or wrong – they are the beginnings of an underlying process. Your ability to track signals will serve you in helping to deepen processes – in yourself and in your relationships with others. In Process Work, we don’t have fixed interpretations about signals (e.g. ‘folded arms means you are holding back’ or ‘closed eyes means you are bored or disinterested’) but instead we want to focus on the signal and discover ‘its world’ by paying attention to our inner experiences that lie behind the signal. 

We usually run over our signals and focus on the content of the conversation. Becoming aware of signals and discovering their meaning requires that we ‘slow down’ and expand our awareness to not only focus on the verbal content but on our non-verbal signals and inner experience as well as the ‘spoken words’.  

We often have a tendency to change our signals when they are pointed out to us because we think there is something ‘wrong’ with them. E.g. if you say you’re feeling relaxed and you notice you are clenching your fist or someone says ‘hey, I see you clench your fist’ the first impulse is often to ‘unclench’. Instead, see if you can allow for the ‘clenched fist’ and track the underlying feeling, mood or state of mind it represents. 

Incongruent signals are signals that don’t go along with the spoken content. They are sometimes also called double signals. An example of this could be saying ‘I love you’ while looking away. Unintended signals are signals that our bodies make ‘automatically’ or without us noticing. We’re usually not aware of unintended or double signals. Unintended and double signals carry information about the deeper layers of a process and are often key to its solution or further unfolding (i.e. becoming unstuck). 

In the example of ‘looking away’ – in this particular instance, the person felt they had to be related and focused on the other all the time. She was marginalizing her need to ‘look away’, i.e. to create space for herself and not be always be so focused on others’ needs. Her hidden need was to be more ‘separate’, which was key to resolving her relationship troubles. 

Thank you!

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